Could the Derwent Pool survive a local governement reorganisation for long? : 6 September 2002

The time has come to consider the likely impact of the proposed merger of Ryedale and Hambleton with Scarborough on Ryedale facilities, such as the Derwent Pool.

The salient facts are as follows:

The original pool was built in about 1902. It was built at what was an old bend of the river on soft ground. The tank was built so as to "float" on this soft ground.

In the mid-sixties, the old pool tank was extended at its shallow end, and the whole pool was roofed over. This resulted in differential settlement betweeen the old tank and the new structures. Cracks appeared, and, by 1986 there was a serious problem of leakage, and damage to the adjacent properties. At one time, it was calculated that, because of the cracks, it took 260,000 gallons of water to fill the 88,000 gallon pool tank. Then the roof over the extension began to fail: one could say that the pool had broken its back. This damage was repaired in 1988 at a cost of just over half a million pounds.

Within a year of these repairs, the roof had to be recovered, because of problems caused by condensation in the pool environment. Soon afterwards the changing rooms were re-configured. Then the windows on the railway side of the building had to be replaced because the frames had rotted. Subsequently the bases of the wooden support columns were found to have rotted, and they had to be re-inforced. Then the air handling plant had to be replaced, in spite of the fact that it was less than fifteen years old.

In other words, within the space of fifteen years after the first major re-furbishment, about another quarter of a million pounds was spent on major repairs.

In 1996, Malton School asked the council to support a lottery bid for money to build a dry sports centre. The school had to offer joint use with the public in order to meet lottery funding requirements. The council's officers welcomed this proposal, and saw it as a way of solving the continuing high costs of the Derwent Pool. If only the sports hall could include a new swimming pool, they said, the new joint-use facility should attract 80% lottery funding, which was available at the time for school joint-use projects, and economies could be made by running both facilities in conjunction with the school and using the same staff. The viability of a joint use dry sports and swimming facility would be better than the viability of running two separate centres.

Unfortunately, the 1999 local elections were imminent, and this worthwhile project was sacrificed on the altar of toy town politics.

The Derwent Pool remains expensive to run. It has sub-standard disabled access. It cannot expand over the grave yard in front of it. The original strucrture is old, and it has always been problematical to run in operational terms. In 1998 structural engineers were asked to check it, and they reported that foul water drainage from the site would always be aproblem; the reinforced concrete beams needed checking, and the ceiling and roof spaces required investigation. It is not an ideal building.

In my last article, I pointed out that unless urgent action is taken to spend Ryedale's six million pounds reserves now, the money will be lost and spent in Scarborough. So please ask yourself this question: assuming that the amalgamation with Scarborough goes ahead, how long is the new Greater Scarborough Authority going to keep the Derwent Pool open?

Malton and Norton are the two largest centres of population in the district, and yet they have less indoor sports facilities than any district. Central Ryedale deserves better than this. This matter needs to be given fresh consideration urgently, otherwise, very soon, there will be no Derwent Pool, either in Malton or in Norton.

Privacy Policy